LAWRENCE, Kan. — Police in Lawrence told reporters Monday afternoon that they planned to seek first-degree murder charges against Sarah Brook Gonzales McLinn, 19, who was located over the weekend in a Florida national park. Authorities arrested her for illegally being in the federal park after hours, and subsequently learned she was wanted for questioning by Lawrence police in the murder of Harold “Hal” Sasko.
Sasko, 52, was found dead inside his home by Lawrence police on Friday, January 17, as they were conducting a welfare check on McLinn, after her family reported her missing that same day.
In Monday’s news conference, police released additional information about locating McLinn, and a few more details involved in Sasko’s murder.
“In the late evening hours on Saturday, January 25, Ms. McLinn and Mr. Sasko’s vehicle were located in the Everglades National Park by U.S. Park Service Law Enforcement Rangers. Ms. McLinn was found to be illegally camping in the park and was in possession of a suspected controlled substance. After a computer check, the rangers contacted the Lawrence Police Department after learning that she was being sought by us,” said Lawrence Police Chief Tarik Khatib.
“On Sunday, January 26, Lawrence police detectives traveled to Florida to contact Ms. McLinn, who is now in federal custody as a result of the unrelated charges brought by the park service law enforcement rangers. Over the course of the last 36 hours, information has been obtained that implicates Ms. McLinn in the death of Mr. Sasko. An arrest warrant for first-degree murder has been issued for Ms. McLinn and detectives will seek to detain her in Florida as a result of the warrant,” continued Chief Khatib.
According to a press release from both the Lawrence Police Department and the Douglas County District Attorney, which was given out following the news conference, evidence suggested McLinn gained control over Sasko and then killed him. On Sunday, the District Attorney’s office requested and served a warrant for McLinn for intentional premeditated first-degree murder.
Police said based on evidence, they believe Sasko was unconscious and subdued at the time he was killed. They also stated the cause of death was a violent act involving an “edged” object, and said they believe they have the murder weapon in their possession but wouldn’t specify what the object was.
Police believe Sasko’s dog, Oliver, who was also missing from the Lawrence residence, has been located at a veterinarian’s office in Florida.
Police said McLinn is currently being held on unrelated charges at a federal detention center in Homestead, Florida. They plan to request Florida authorities to release her to the state of Kansas. If she does not fight that extradition, she may return to Kansas this week. Once McLinn returns to Kansas, she will have a first appearance in Douglas County District Court on her charge. At this time, police are not releasing the possible motive for the murder.
FOX 4 will continue to update this story and have new details as we talk about these new developments to those who knew Sasko and McLinn. Refresh this page for updates.